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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor DE Cooper

David E. Cooper (2002). The Measure of Things: Humanism, Humility and Mystery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


The book begins with an account of the emergence of 'humanism', understood as the claim that any 'discursable' world is a 'human world', one whose description is relative to human purposes and perspectives. Humanism is contrasted with 'absolutism' which, it is argued, is a doctrine at once hubristic and implausible. However, it is also argued that a 'raw' humanism, which denies the existence of any reality beyond the human world, is also hubristic and 'unliveable'. The conclusion is drawn is that we must take seriously the existence of a radically mysterious order of reality, a 'source' for our human world. The final chapters discuss how one might be 'attuned' to this mystery and what implications for the conduct of life recognition of mystery may have.